Random Thoughts – August 2020

Cognitive Bias

As a product owner, are your decisions driven or affected by Cognitive bias?

“A cognitive bias is a systematic pattern of deviation from norm or rationality in judgment. Individuals create their own “subjective reality” from their perception of the input.”

With years of experience there are beliefs and patterns that are stored in your subconscious mind. As a decision maker, you trust your decision without validating it against data/facts. Which can lead to incorrect product decisions.

How can we overcome cognitive bias to make better product decisions?

I would suggest to take a second opinion, like involvement of Scrum team while refining product backlog or priotizing PBIs.

Your decisions should also be backed by some solid data rather than by your own personal preferences.

Stay healthy

If you are on a weight loss journey and trying to reach to a certain milestone then self organization and discipline should be your primary vehicles.

Some tips:

* If you wake up early, try to utilise morning time and achieve at least 60% of your daily target (calories, steps etc.) by 8 AM.

* Be consistent and try to exercise atleast 5 days a week, if you use devices like Fitbit then setup a weekend challenge with your pals.

* Try not to be monotonous with your routine, mix up things like change running course, practice yoga, go for weight training or do abs exercises etc…

For me personally, this pandemic has been a blessing in disguise. I am trying to make most out of it (time at hand).

Definition of ready (DoR)

Often teams follow a checklist when it comes to DoR. Only stories fulfilling all the criterias are picked during the sprint planning session.

Examples of DoR:

*Acceptance criteria clearly written
*External dependencies identified
*Resource who will work on the story is in place
*Business value is clearly articulated

At times these hard requirements act like a stage gate and PBI must pass through all of them before it can be considered for a discussion. This may slow down a team which is against the spirit of being Agile.

In my opinion, team should understand the meaning and importance of DoR, it should act as a guideline for the team for Backlog refinement and not as a stage gate. Probably that’s the reason the Scrum guide doesn’t mention about DoR.

Budgeting- Waterfall vs Agile

In the Waterfall or traditional way of working, we secure project budget upfront. Even if the final delivery is planned after six months. It is based on the detailed planning followed by other phases like coding, testing, implantation etc..
There are chances that after six months customer needs or market conditions have changed and end product doesn’t satisfy or appeal to anyone.

How the things could change if we adopt Agile way of working?

No need to allocate huge sum for the whole six months rather just run couple of sprints and try to come up with a minimum viable product. Release it and seek an immediate customer feedback. If the customer is happy, your hypothesis is proven and you may get budget to develop other features. If not then you may pull the plug, overall loss won’t be that substantial.
#Agile gives us ways to quickly inspect and adapt. That’s why framework like Scrum are tailor made to handle complex problems.

Product Mastery

Is product owner a collaborator or a customer to the development team?

When team uses the word “we”, does that mean to include you or are you outside the circle?

Do they deliver things for you or with you?

– Geoff Watts

Deep Work

Do you believe in the deep work?

Did you try by uninstalling social media applications from your smartphones, by locking yourself in a room for hours or by creating a daily routine to remain focused on the task at hand?

Is it even possible in this fast paced environment, if you tried, did it work for you?

Agile Governance

Do Scrum teams require external Governance?
We often face scenario where development team is not happy with an idea of writing documents for P3M, ORP signoffs.

“Working software over comprehensive documentation” ?

In my opinion, governance tasks (like security reviews, BCP testing, Ops handover etc.) should be part of the product backlog or DoD by design rather than enforced by external stakeholders/auditors.


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Scrum India day picture (with J.J. Sutherland)

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